Common Mistakes

Note - If you want information on divorce in states other than New Hampshire, check the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for the directory of divorce lawyers.

1. What are the most common mistakes people make in divorce?

2. How can I hurt my case by things I do before I see a lawyer?

3. Can my failing to take action hurt my case?

4. I'm anxious to have my divorce over as soon as possible. I'll sign anything!

5. My co-worker got the house in her divorce, why should I settle for anything less?

6. My spouse left me for someone else. Why should my spouse get any of the assets?

7. I'm so angry about the divorce! I want to tell the judge my story and get what I deserve.

8. As my spouse has left me for a co-worker, my spouse should have minimal contact with our child.


1. What are the most common mistakes people make in divorce?
  • Taking action that effects your rights before getting legal advice.
  • Making financial and legal decisions while under pressure or upset about the family break-up.
  • Getting advice on your divorce from family and friends.
  • Using the court process to punish your spouse.
2. How can I hurt my case by things I do before I see a lawyer?
The concept of "precedent" or doing things the way they have been done before is an important legal principle. It is used in deciding parenting and other divorce issues. For example, if one parent moves out, leaving the child with the other parent, it would have a significant impact on the parenting plan. Another example is if you make certain payments to your spouse without a court order, it may be hard to later convince a court that you can't afford to continue to make them.
3. Can my failing to take action hurt my case?
Being the first person to file court papers may give you a procedural advantage. If the other person files first, it is essential that you file appropriate papers by the court-imposed deadlines, or you may lose your right to participate in the case.
4. I'm anxious to have my divorce over as soon as possible. I'll sign anything!
This attitude, while understandable given the pain of divorce, results in a common mistake. Making decisions too quickly, without taking time to consider the long-term consequences, and to consult with a lawyer and possibly other professionals, results in bad decisions. If you make decisions this way, you will regret it.
5. My co-worker got the house in her divorce, why should I settle for anything less?
The facts in each case are different. Depending on your children's ages, the value of the house and other assets, and the amount of the mortgage, "getting the house" might not be a likely outcome in your case. Additionally, it might not make sense financially, even if it is possible.
6. My spouse left me for someone else. Why should my spouse get any of the assets?
Your feelings are understandable, but if you try to use the divorce to get back at your spouse, the only winners will be the lawyers. They will collect large fees. After you and your lawyer have had time to gather information and consider your options, it is best to try to reach a settlement you can live with.
7. I'm so angry about the divorce! I want to tell the judge my story and get what I deserve.
It is understandable that you are angry; it is a normal response to a bad situation. However, having a contested hearing with decisions made for you and your family by a stranger is usually an expensive mistake.
8. As my spouse has left me for a co-worker, my spouse should have minimal contact with our child.
Unfaithfulness causes real pain. However, your child needs and loves both parents and will be harmed if brought into the divorce. Bad behavior or inadequacies as a spouse are not relevant in parenting decisions.

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